Go green, get green

New program offers Alcoa residents incentives for recycling

Introducing the RecycleBank program are, from left, Tricia Tipton, public information officer for the City of Alcoa; Steve LaFollette, district manager with Waste Connections; Bruce Curtis with the City of Alcoa; Doug McGill, municipal marketing manager with Waste Connections; and Kenny Wiggins, director of Engineering and Public Works for the City of Alcoa.

Introducing the RecycleBank program are, from left, Tricia Tipton, public information officer for the City of Alcoa; Steve LaFollette, district manager with Waste Connections; Bruce Curtis with the City of Alcoa; Doug McGill, municipal marketing manager with Waste Connections; and Kenny Wiggins, director of Engineering and Public Works for the City of Alcoa.

If a new program is instituted in Alcoa, residents there will have the opportunity to get discounts at businesses and restaurants like Wal-Mart, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday and Dick’s Sporting Goods, all because they choose to recycle.

The RecycleBank program being offered by Waste Connections will give residents and small business owners the opportunity to earn $15 to $20 a month in rewards based on the amount they recycle each month. At least 1,500 residents/small businesses must commit to the program before it can be implemented, City of Alcoa Public Works and Engineering director Kenny Wiggins said.

Waste Connections and City of Alcoa officials gathered recently at the Alcoa Service Center on North Wright Road to explain the program. A letter outlining details and benefits of the initiative is set to be mailed out this week, public information officer Tricia Tipton said.

The program works like this: RecycleBank is a three step process. The more one recycles, the more one earns. Customers who sign up to receive the RecycleBank service through Waste Connections receive a wheeled recycling cart embedded with a computer chip. When Waste Connections picks up the recycling, the truck records the weight of the cart and transmits it wirelessly to an online account for the customer.

The customer’s account builds points that are redeemed for discounts/gift cards from merchants. RecycleBank points accrue month-to-month and year-to-year for as long as one remains in the RecycleBank program. RecycleBank points expire only if there is no activity in a member’s account for more than six months.

Wiggins said Waste Connections requires that at least 1,500 customers commit to a 12-month contract before the RecycleBank program can be implemented. RecycleBank participants pay a $3 monthly fee that is added to her utility bill for the service.

Doug McGill, municipal marketing manager with Waste Connections, said RecycleBank points are redeemable at 2,300 national retailers from Wal-Mart, Ruby Tuesday and Olive Garden to McDonalds and Dicks’ Sporting Goods.

McGill said Waste Connections started the program in Jefferson City and Oak Ridge 18 months ago, and the program substantially increased the amount of recycling done in Oak Ridge and Jefferson City.

“Jefferson City went up 444 percent in the amount it sends to recycling from 72 tons to 344 tons with this program. Oak Ridge went from 1,272 tons to 2,640 tons -- about 207 percent,” he said.

Tricia Tipton, public information officer with the City of Alcoa, said anyone switching to the service would go from weekly to bi-weekly recycling pickup but the participating homes would get a much larger container, one that rolls on wheels, to hold all their recycling. The current 20 gallon blue box containers would be collected when the rolling containers were delivered to the participating homes.

McGill said once the city gets 1,500 residents signed up for the program, it will take 90 days to set up the program. “The No. 1 thing we need to get across is they have the opportunity to receive rewards for doing something right. That’s what the city is offering,” he said.

In a press release, Alcoa Mayor Don Mull urged residents and small businesses to join the RecycleBank program. “This is a wonderful opportunity to reduce what is sent to our landfill while making our city greener and lessening our impact on the environment. I hope that all Alcoa residents and small business owners will take advantage of this new program and reward themselves while living a more green lifestyle,” he said.

Waste Connection offers “single stream” recycling, making more items acceptable for recycling. Questions may be directed to Alcoa’s Sanitation Services Division at 865-380-4815.

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